Funded Projects

Grant Status: Active

Grant Title: BEST Program: Building education, student nvolvement, and training in maternal and child health

Web Site: Rutgers School of Public Health Project Exit Disclaimer

Project Director(s):

Teri Lassiter, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor
Rutgers School of Public Health
1 Riverfront Plaza Suite 1020
Newark, NJ  07102
Phone: 973-972-8686


Currently there is no fundamental MCH course at Rutgers School of Public Health (RSPH) and there is a lack of student activities and practical opportunities for students interested in a MCH career. New Jersey is a diverse state and needs a diverse MCH workforce to serve New Jersey families.

Goals and Objectives:

The goal of the BEST Program is to increase the number of graduate students with fundamental training in MCH in the MCH workforce, in particular students from minority and underrepresented backgrounds. Program objectives are: 1) Train students in fundamental MCH learning competencies through completion of a fundamental course; 2) Generate interest in MCH through a MCH student organization; 3) Provide students with MCH practicum experiences; 4) Recruit students from minority and underrepresented backgrounds; 4) Support students with a Faculty Workgroup.


Program activities include: 1) Develop and implement a fundamental course in MCH. The fundamental course in MCH is titled, "Foundations in maternal and child health: A lifecourse - health equity perspective". Course competencies are based on an assessment of the needs of the MCH workforce by Title V leaders and Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health's competencies. The course will utilize student-centered learning methods, with an effort to include one new innovation per semester offered to ensure cutting-edge training methods and continual quality improvement. 2) Create a student organization with a focus in MCH. The MCH student organization will be the first of its kind at RSPH, and will energize students to be passionate about MCH issues. Activities might include speaker series, community service, MCH alumni-faculty-student happy hours, and other activities chosen by the students. 3) Create practicum opportunities in MCH and award stipends for four BEST Scholars. Practicum opportunities will be developed with community and public health agency partners. Yearly stipends of $4000 will be granted to BEST Scholars to complete a practicum in MCH. 4) Recruit students from minority and underrepresented groups to participate in BEST Program. BEST Program staff and faculty will recruit students from existing student groups, RSPH open houses, and Rutgers undergraduate public health program. 5) Create a Faculty Workgroup to support the BEST Program. Faculty with expertise in maternal and child health, teaching, and mentoring will support all program activities.


Our program has the support of the State of New Jersey Department of Health Division of Family Health Services, the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey, Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey, and the March of Dimes. These organizations will provide students with practical MCH experience as well as provide the Project Director with a network on which to draw expertise and local MCH information when developing the curriculum.


Process and outcome evaluation of the BEST Program is important to continual quality improvement and measuring success. Data collection methods include an anonymous course evaluation survey, student tracking databases, a yearly retreat of the student organization, and alumni follow-up. Process evaluation metrics include ability of course to meet competencies, student satisfaction, numbers of students enrolled in the course, number of students participating in the student organization and events, and number of faculty participating in Faculty Workgroup meetings. Outcome evaluation metrics include the number of students who successfully complete MCH practicums, the number of students who intend to pursue a MCH career, and the number of students in MCH jobs. Percent minority students will be assessed for each metric.

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